By Beth Oppenheimer | Opinion on Idaho Statesman
Last year, Idaho was the recipient a $6 million annual grant for three years with a focus to improve Idaho’s early childhood education system. This grant was a follow-on to a previously successfully administered grant that allowed local communities to set up their own strategic plans related to early learning. U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch were strong proponents of the grant because it would have directly benefitted Idaho communities.
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Idaho’s child care system is collapsing, and the resulting effects will be devastating for families, employers, and our economy. Families that depend on affordable, quality care are being left with few options and many providers are at their breaking point, being unable to find staff to operate at needed capacity.
This situation is dire and, if we do not act to support this industry and its early childhood professionals now, the dwindling of available child care availability will only get worse. While this assessment is bleak, we have never had a better opportunity to address the structural barriers to accessing child care than right now, but we need to be clear on what is causing this problem.
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Over the next several months, you may be presented with an opportunity to sign a petition from Reclaim Idaho to put something called the Quality Education Act on the November 2022 ballot. If you get that opportunity, you should sign the petition.
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What would Idaho’s companies do if they had a $1.4 billion windfall? Many would invest it to make their company more profitable for years to come.
Well, Idaho is sitting on a $1.4 billion surplus, and it has a historic opportunity to invest that money to create greater prosperity for this and future generations of Idahoans.